12 Boozy Gift Ideas for the Amateur Bartender in Your Life

 wired.com  11/10/2019 14:00:00 

From growlers to glassware, these are our favorite gifts for beer, wine, or cocktail connoisseurs.

We all have that family member who seems impossible to buy for. But here's a tip: There's a good chance that they drink.

From products that ensure your alcoholic beverages stay fresh to those that help you actually create them, there are many ways to improve anyone's liquid happiness for the coming decade. But there are also a lot of gadgets that cost a lot of money and do nothing. Lucky for you, we've done the research. After much consideration, here are our favorite drinking-related gifts of the year.

Be sure to check out our many other buying guides, including our favorite wireless headphones and fanny packs.

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Read more about how this works.
  • Growlerwerks Stainless Steel uKeg

    The problem with most growlers is that you have to finish them once they're open. Oxygen is the villain. The pesky element ruins flavor when it hits your favorite hop-soaked liquid, giving it the taste of wet cardboard if you open and re-seal your growlers after the first pint. That's why the uKeg (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is so great. Thanks to the built-in tap and a tiny CO2 regulator that runs off portable canisters, you can get a taproom-quality pour from the first sip to last.

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  • Ever want to sample a rare bottle without opening the whole thing? That's where Coravin comes in. It uses specially coated needles and inert Argon gas (often used in the winemaking process) to extract small pours from unopened bottles without damaging the rest of the wine inside.

    We're fans of all Coravin models we've triedfrom the affordable Model One to the Bluetooth-controlled (and very expensive Model Eleven (7/10), but the sweet spot is the Model Two, which works very well, and costs half the price of its Bluetooth-speaking brother.

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  • Homebrewing seems complicated, but it's a lot like making oatmeal. You combine cracked grain with warm water, separate the liquid from the grain, and boil that liquid with hops. Those looking to get into the hobby often spend lots of time and money finding the right pots, getting propane burners, and building expensive systems from scratch.

    With the Grainfather, a Bluetooth-enabled electric brewery, you'll start making excellent beer in no time. It mashes (the hot water and grain step), then boils and chills your wort (unfermented beer) with ease. All you have to do is add yeast to a carboy, splash the Grainfather's output on top of it, and wait a couple weeks until it's time to bottle.

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  • LifeProof Backpack Cooler

    Most people have a plastic cooler laying around for car trips, but what if you want to tote your favorite beverage somewhere a bit more remote? Enter the LifeProof Backpack Cooler, which can easily fit a six-pack (with room for some food) cold on your way to dinner. It even has a bottle opener on the shoulder strap, although many public parks have rules against glass.

    Fellow product reviewer Adrienne So claims it stays cold longer than most, with ice packs lasting about 10 hours in 80-90 degree sunlight.

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  • Double-walled stainless steel keeps this special koozie up to 20 times colder than one that's surrounded by a traditional neoprene sleeve. Best of all, it fits both 12 and 16 oz cans, thanks to a special gel riser (that keeps 12oz cans even cooler). They even make a thinner version, for those of you who want to keep those White Claws cold.

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  • Vinturi V1010 Red Wine Aerator

    Unlike beer, you actually do want your wine to breathe. As bolder red wine oxidizes, tannins soften and become less harsh, making for a rounder, more balanced overall drinking experience.

    We recommend nabbing a high-quality aerator before swirling the wine in your glass like a pro. The Vinturi V1010 is a cheap, solid option, with the added bonus that it will grab bigger sediment or bits of cork in its filter screen as you pour. It still might take 15-30 minutes for the wine to fully "open up," but this is a great way to kickstart the process.

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  • Spiegelau Craft Beer Glasses

    Believe it or not, glass shape, size, and even thickness can have a lot of effect on the flavors of your favorite beer. The engineers at Spiegelau solve the problem of improper glassware head-on, offering an assortment of style-specific glasses that will help you get the most out of each pint.

    My favorite is the IPA glass, which uses round bumps on the bottom of the glass to agitate the beer when you tilt it to drinkleaving a fresh puff of hop aroma into the tulip-shaped upper section, which just makes every sip a little richer.

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  • Riedel Vinum Pinot Noir Glass

    Just like with beer, glassware has a huge effect on the way that you perceive the nuance and complexity inside the finest wines. For better results, try the Riedel Pinot Noir Glass, which concentrates bolder, fruity aromas in the pinched area at the top of the glass, and helps limit swirl-based spills. They even come with a cool party trick: You can fit an entire bottle of wine in each glass. Don't ask me how I know this.

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  • Designed for optimum fluid dynamics, scent delivery, and ergonomics (yes, seriously), Norlan's whiskey glasses are the best in the business. Created in partnership with master distiller Jim McEwanarguably the most famous maker of Scotch on earththey offer a perfect home from which your wee drams may whisper their oak-aged secrets.

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  • Oxford University Press Companion To Beer

    Want to know more about Cascade hops? What about the origin of Pinot Noir? Check out the Oxford Companions to Beer and Wine). With contributions from some of the world's top researchers, academics, and brewers and vintners (depending on which book you choose), you can get lost thumbing through the pages. You'll never wonder about the difference between Porter and Stout again.

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  • Wine Folly Wine Tasting Journal

    Anyone who's as obsessed with Google Docs as I am knows the power of a good template. That's why I like this tasting notebook, which has sections for smell, appearance, and a sliding scale for rating body, tannin, acidity, alcohol, and sweetness, so you'll never forget to bring a special glass.

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  • Margarita Girl Frozen Drink Machine

    Nobody needs a slushy machine churning out margaritas in their bar area, but who wouldn't want one? This special little tool will whip up 25 cups of your finest frozen booze in no time. It'll also make a ton of friends jealous (along with nearly every WIRED Gear team member). This is how you win the holidays.

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